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Old 05-25-2019, 04:50 PM
Bucksnort Bucksnort is offline
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West Fork Black River

Bear with me anglers, I'm learning. The best way to learn about fly fishing is to read and ask questions.

While driving on Road 25, about one mile from the intersection of 24 and 25, I spotted the west fork while driving over a bridge. A quick glance told me this section of the fork is right up my alley - good looking pocket water. I pulled to the side of the road, donned my gear and headed back to the bridge only to find the entire area fenced off above and below the bridge. I have questions about this.

In Arizona, you can hunt on fenced private land that is not posted so my first question is, does this apply to fishing? Upstream from the bridge are what looks like private residences.

A few yards upstream of the bridge is some equipment which looks like a gauging station. Is this a gauging station and is it Point of Pines?
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Old 05-27-2019, 11:51 AM
River River is offline
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No....Point of Pines is a number of miles down stream from that.
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:13 PM
aztightlines aztightlines is offline
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There is a ranch along the West Fork of the Black, below the campgrounds, called Thompson Ranch, I believe, that was fenced off years ago. The AZ Game & Fish owned it, for some strange reason.

A railroad ran from the logging town of Maverick along the Black, eventually to McNary. If you drop down below where FR 116 crosses the West Fork, it is good hiking the Thompson Trail above the creek, as it is the old railroad bed.

Local trout clubs "improved" the West Fork, but grazing has degraded the meadow again. I fished it with my wife briefly last October, good water flow, but we didn't hook much in a few minutes of fishing dry/dropper above the bridge at 116.

The Pump Station is way, way downstream on the main Black, on the Reservation - San Carlos south bank, White Mt. Apache north bank. I heard the pumping station is not operating any more - but there was great smallmouth fishing back in the day upstream and down from there.
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:46 PM
flyer flyer is offline
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Point of Pines is a small lake on the San Carlos Res. near the Pump Station on the lower Black.
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Old 05-27-2019, 06:05 PM
M Lopez M Lopez is offline
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Yes, the entire meadow you were looking at (above the Forest Road 25 bridge) is open to fishing, even within the fences. The private residences (just one cabin) is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and access is allowed on the stream to fish. If you would have followed the fence far enough, you might see an occasional small yellow sign on the fence (more along the side facing the 25 road) indicating it is AGFD property. But this is not Thompson Ranch, that is way upstream at the FR 116 road. AGFD never owned Thompson Ranch, that was owned by a private party that ended up doing a land trade (whole other story) and now Thompson Ranch is owned by the Forest Service.

Anyway, back to the FR 25 meadow on the West Fork. The stream gage you saw does not work and has not worked for the last 20 years. There is a similar gage on the lower East Fork Black (downstream of FR 24 bridge) that also has not worked for the last 20 years. We've asked for those gages to be fixed and returned to working order, but USGS says it would take $15,000 a year to keep just one running. So they remain in non-working condition. This is why we are all stuck with only 1 stream gage on the entire Black River watershed, the one way downstream at the Black River Pumping Station. And better yet, the Forest Service has identified in their new Forest Plan to remove the non-functioning gages. If this happens, we will NEVER have stream gages on the forks.

Regarding fences in Arizona. There is a lot of cattle grazing in Arizona and some fences are only their to delineate pastures within an allotment on public land. If you don't see a sign on the fence telling you to keep off, you can generally go on and fish. This also applies to private property. Its best to have good maps with you and always know where you are, on private or public, but you are generally safe if you don't see any signs. A private landowner has to post their property according to some strict rules to legally keep you off, or be present to tell you to leave. If a private landowner tells you to leave, just say you are sorry and leave. You can't be cited on the spot unless the property is well signed, or you refuse to leave.
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:30 PM
Bucksnort Bucksnort is offline
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M Lopez,

Your last paragraph is the way I understand fences and, as I said, this applies to hunting also. I believe posting is something like every quarter mile and it can't be like someone did in an area where I dove hunt. They used white spray paint and wrote, "no hunting" on a large piece of rotted plywood.

I like this rule. Colorado does not have the same law. In Colorado, there has been confusion about whether you can float a river through private property. The consensus is, you can float but you cannot touch the bottom. Then there has been the confusion over whether the air space over the water is private property. Fortunately, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has done an excellent job of paying landowners for access for anglers on many rivers (the Eagle River below Eagle comes to mind) but then, there is usually the rule you can't walk on the bank beyond the high water mark except for access trails.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:27 PM
M Lopez M Lopez is offline
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Following a river/stream in Arizona thru posted property is different than most states. If a river/stream flows thru a private property that is posted no trespassing, you cannot follow that river/stream onto or thru that property unless that river is a legal navigable waterway. That means the river was considered to be navigated for commercial activity at the time of statehood. The courts have decided that only includes the Colorado River in Arizona. There were some recent court cases trying to include the Salt and Verde rivers, but I don't think those held up. We are not like most western states that allow anglers to float or wade streams thru private property that is posted no trespassing. If it's not posted, then you can go through.
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